After crash, police again beg drivers: Lock your car doors

- For James Moultrie Jr., Friday was a bad day. Saturday was even worse.

"When I came back, I put the groceries up and I was watching the debate on TV and I fell asleep and left the keys in the car," he recalled.  "Somebody gone and stole the car. I called the police."

Monday was a near tragedy.  The stolen rental car slammed into two undercover officers in a truck.

The officers, one from Tampa and one from St. Petersburg, were part of a task force that searches for stolen cars.  They were on patrol off Central Avenue when the stolen Toyota Corolla ran a stop sign and crashed right into them.

St. Petersburg police identified Jamal Parker as the driver.  He had five teenage passengers in the car with him.

"I said, that looked like the car that was stolen, but I wasn't sure until I seen it again on TV," said Moultrie.

Officers said what happened could have been prevented.  For months, agencies across the Bay Area have been begging car owners to keep their car doors locked.

"The only thing left to do is drop flyers. We've put it in papers, you guys and gals have run these stories over and over again," Chief Anthony Holloway told reporters.

Yet nothing seems to work.

"There are choices to be made. As a vehicle owner, as an owner of a car, you have a choice as to whether you leave your keys in your car or you put them in your pocket when you leave," said Mayor Rick Kriseman.

So once again, police are left to repeat the same old message and hope that this time, someone is listening.

"Please help us help the public and educate the public to take the keys out of the car," Chief Holloway added.

The two officers are OK; one has already been released from the hospital.

Jamal Parker remains in very critical condition.

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